, Salem, MA

July 18, 2013

Handbill heats up City Council meeting

By Alan Burke
Staff writer

---- — PEABODY — The issue is a plan to establish an indoor recreation facility at 143 Lynnfield St., and for a moment, it looked like it might end with some indoor recreation between Councilor Dave Gamache and former mayoral candidate Russ Donovan.

The application from GM Fine stalled over whether the council should pass judgment prior to a vote from the conservation commission.

“We shouldn’t be hearing this,” said member Arthur Athas. If the council gives permission before conservation turns it down, “we’re making fools of ourselves,” he reasoned.

Colleague Jim Liacos pointed out the advantage of giving a judgment before the applicant spends money unnecessarily on permit fees.

The issue was put aside, however, as an angry Gamache displayed a flier apparently circulated by opponents of the project. Councilors’ names, along with City Clerk Tim Spanos’ name, were included beneath the council letterhead. Yet, the flier raised questions about the project — asking, for example, if there had been a traffic study.

Gamache said that he knows of someone in Ward 1 who had sent out a similar flier in the past. He turned his gaze to Donovan and said, “I would ask you not to do it. It’s not right.”

The accused cried innocence: “I didn’t do it.”

Responding with a theatrical flourish, Gamache crumbled up the flier and tossed it on the floor.

A recess followed, and Donovan approached Gamache, still insisting he’d been wrongfully named.

“Get away from me,” said Gamache, indicating he did not want to talk.

Donovan held his ground, however, and the two conferred briefly.

“I want to believe him,” Gamache said afterward. “And I took him for his word.”

They shook hands, and Gamache apologized. But he added, “Somebody did it.”

Giving it to Jack

Lawyer Jack Keilty seemed to know it wasn’t in the cards when he went to the City Council last week proposing a farm stand, complete with a beer and wine license, and greenhouse at 176 Lynn St.

“I sometimes feel like that old commercial,” he said, “‘Give it to Mikey; he likes it.’”

Opposition included some would-be competitors to the new business. In addition, ward Councilor Barry Osborne anticipated traffic congestion.

“I can’t think that this will not have an adverse effect,” he said.

“When you ask for a beer and wine license, to the average person, it’s not a greenhouse,” said member Dave Gamache. “It’s a package store.”

Councilor Jim Liacos saw the farm stand morphing into a convenience store. But he added, “I’m not a Puritan. I’m old enough to buy beer and wine.” He threw in with supporters, who were on the losing end of the issue, 4 to 6.

You can’t get there through here

Because nothing says Friday like roadwork, a section of Lowell Street is scheduled for repaving tomorrow, according to the mayor’s office. A short stretch from Forest Street to Route 128 will be affected. Drivers are urged to leave more time to get where they are going and take other routes if possible.

Warm enough for you?

It’s perfect weather to discuss global warming. On the other hand, Anna McGinn is scheduled to talk about “Global Perspectives on the Changing Climate” Wednesday, August 14, at 7 p.m. at Peabody Institute Library on Main Street.

“It might be hot in August, too,” librarian Kelley Rae Unger said.

McGinn, who attended the 2011 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, as a part of a research team from Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, came forward to offer herself as a speaker.

“Anybody is welcomed to do that,” says Unger, adding that the library will assess who has enough expertise to attract an audience.

Staff writer Alan Burke can be reached at